Posts Tagged ‘food waste’

Tesco removing “best before” dates

Thursday, May 24th, 2018 | Food

This week, Tesco announced that it was removing “best before” dates from around 70 products including apples, potatoes, tomatoes, lemons and onions.

In 2012, I wrote about how banning “best before” dates could contribute to reducing food waste. Has Tesco taken this step because of the relentless pressure of six years of being sharing my blog post? No. But I’m pleased about their decision nonetheless.

Best before dates part II

Monday, July 23rd, 2012 | Religion & Politics, Thoughts

Earlier today, I wrote about best before dates, suggesting that one way to reduce food waste would be to ban them. It ended on a “why not?” question. But there is a reason why, which would have totally changed the tone of the blog post, so I’ve put it in a separate one.

The reason is, people actually like living in a nanny state when it comes to these things. I like the fact that it tells me on the packaging when I should throw something away and the reality is that it will probably be reasonably close to the actual time it will be past its best, so what is the harm?

Of course, you can argue that reducing food waste would be beneficial, but as Rob Lyons points out, reducing our own food waste doesn’t help feed the third world – people aren’t starving in Africa because we’re eating all their food. It’s economics that drives food production and if we weren’t buying their food, they simple wouldn’t grow it.

In fact, you can go even further to say that because we buy more food than we need and simply bin a lot of it, it actually increases the amount we buy from the third world and thereby helps to support their economy by essentially subsidising unrequired food production.

Best before dates

Monday, July 23rd, 2012 | Religion & Politics, Thoughts

In recent years, there has been a lot made of food waste, and some of this has been attributed to supermarkets putting very conservative “best before” dates on products that result in people throwing perfectly editable food away.

This might be down to a combination of supermarkets protecting themselves from lawsuits if anyone gets food poisoning, and encouraging people to throw food away early so they will buy more. But I don’t know, maybe they have some other reason. Maybe they genuinely believe their best before dates are appropriate. In any case, it’s not important to this post.

As a solution, why don’t we just ban supermarkets putting best before dates on things?

Surely that would solve the problem, forcing people to use their own common sense. You could argue that relying on common sense is an issue, but any common sense people are lacking is almost certainly down to the nanny state situation of having too many best before dates to rely on in the first place. But even if you consider that a problem, which I don’t think it is, it’s pretty easy to work out when bread is past its best.

I often find that, on some occasions, the law works very well as a blunt instrument. Remember when they banned smoking in pubs, and lots of people said there should be lots of complicated rules and exceptions, but instead they just banned everything, and now everyone is much happier because it worked really well? To be clear, I’m not being sarcastic there, that is actually what happened. Clamping is another good example.

Just tell producers they’re not allowed, people use their common sense and food stops getting wasted. Problem solved.